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Nepal - Summary

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceNepal - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education


Education is vital to human development, and Nepal recognizes this fact and is committed to making education universal. Despite the fact that substantial progress has been made in this direction, much still remains to be done. The country is still caught in the vicious cycle of poverty, lethargy of illiteracy, and tradition. Three-fifths of the country is still illiterate, with three-fourths of women being illiterate. In the 1990s, the country clearly moved toward democratization; however, the unstable governments and tenuous leadership have not yet yielded clear benefits for the masses. The education system is plagued by a lack of financial support, deficiency of trained human resources, inadequate physical infrastructure, and managerial inefficiency. As a consequence, the country is heavily dependent on foreign aid. Self-reliance in the education sector seems to be elusive with more than half of the funding coming from foreign donors. The international influence continues to shape the priorities for the country, while at the same time increasing the burden of debt. Efforts to broaden taxation, making the revenue administration more effective and efficient, and increasing taxation on private school incomes might be some measures that could be taken to boost local funding of education.

Universal access to literacy and primary education is emphasized in policy statements and political manifestos. However, the literacy and primary education efforts are confronted with barriers such as poverty, dropouts, burden of work on children, irregularity of school operation, physical distance to schools, low perceived importance of education by masses, caste and ethnic discriminations, centralized curricula, differential dialects and languages, and failure of local planning. The curricula are centralized with governmental control that does not allow teachers and local communities to take ownership of education. Political will and sustained efforts at addressing the barriers will assist in achieving this goal.

The secondary education system suffers from poor net enrollment ratios, lack of infrastructure, inadequate equipment, poor quality of education, lack of trained teachers, and financial constraints. The higher secondary level in Nepal is in its infancy stages and is completely in private hands for its implementation. Therefore it is confined mainly in the urban areas and to the sections of population that can afford it. More efforts are needed to extend its reach into remote and rural areas.

Finally, the philosophical direction of Nepalese education is being shaped rather blindly on borrowed models primarily from the West. Nepal has failed to build on its rich heritage of Sanskrit-based education that emphasized the importance of experiential learning. The experiential learning concepts have somehow been lost and education from books that emphasize rote memorization has gained eminence. The situation has been further compounded by blind emphasis on the English education system and failure to incorporate problem-based, analytical approaches inherent in the Western models. As a result, the quality of education has left much to be desired. There is vast scope for improving the quality, a challenge that Nepalese educators and planners must accept.


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—Manoj Sharma

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